An Introduction to EMDR Therapy

Dr. Liz: Hello and welcome to Calm, Cool, and Connected Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Elizabeth.

Eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing or commonly known as EMDR is a treatment model that was originally introduced in the 1980s to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. But since that time, EMDR has been found to be highly effective for other disorders as well, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and even obsessive-compulsive disorders here with us today is Kelly O horo, a licensed professional counselor and an EMDRIA certified trainer consultant and practitioner. Kelly's here to chat with us about EMDR and the profound benefits of this approach. Hi Kelly, Welcome.

Kelly O’Horo: Hi there. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Liz: Thank you so much for joining us. So, before we jump in, let's talk a little bit about the work you do in the mental health field. Tell us a little bit about you.

Kelly O'Horo: I'm a certified and approved consultant through EMDRIA. I also am on the faculty for the center for excellence and EMDR therapy. I've been doing EMDR since I want to say about 2012 and I'm just very passionate about the modality. I've also opened a practice called Infinite Healing and Wellness. We are a center for EMDR Excellence. So, all of our practitioners are EMDR trained and are passionate about continuing their education in in the modality.

Dr. Liz: EMDR has just such amazing benefits. We see such profound impacts and outcomes that really come out of this, this modality when somebody is coming in and maybe they've been experiencing these symptoms for years and years and years. And for them to be able to find some relief through this model, I know is a really big deal for a lot of people. How would you describe EMDR? So, in, in lay person's terms how would you describe EMDR?

Kelly O’Horo: EMDR therapy is really a bottom-up therapeutic approach. So, in therapy, there's a couple of ways to do it top down, meaning all the talk therapy, modalities, CBT DBT, things that are about connecting your brain with with what you need to know from a data perspective. EMDR therapy is a bottom-up approach. So, this addresses the cellular stored information about maladaptively stored information. So, if we had a distressing event that we weren't prepared to handle, and it kind of gets stuck as if it's still live. When we're triggered in real time, with something that looks, tastes, smells or feels like an event that happened in the past, we then re react as if it's still live. And so, the way our memory holds information actually the EMDR addresses the way our memory has held and changes the way it's stored so that it can go into long-term memory and process, be stuck, the word in emotion, sensations, and returns.

Dr. Liz: And what is the EMDR process

Kelly O’Horo: look like?

Dr. Liz: Since it was originally introduced in the 1980s, as we know from the eye movement piece and to more options, what does that process for somebody who's listening, maybe have considered this in the past, but I know there for a lot of people, there's the fear around the unknown. What do people expect when they sit down in the chair and you start the EMDR process?

Kelly O’Horo: Right. Well, first we want to know what they want to work on. So, let's say they're, they're anxious about something specific or, or they're just overall anxious or they're low or depressed. We first look to understand the origins of things: How someone has learned to adapt the other environment and their biology. And what we listen for is identifying events that, that person is related or the roots to where things were caused. And so, from an EMDR or an AIP theory perspective, we take what the client is presenting with and then through the process and a very specific protocol, we reverse engineer where things are stored based on physiology. So how, how things show up in our body, the emotions and sensations that we're experiencing, and then those negative beliefs that get sort of the thread that ties our beliefs together. So, we reverse engineer. We identify root causes. We set up those targets very specifically with standard protocols and other protocols that have been adapted in the process. We then make sure the client has all of that lined up. Then we start the process with eye movements or tactile stimulation. There's been a lot of recent research that has actually really modified to really implement more taxing working memory strategies, which is a lot more comfortable for clients. And so, I've been excited to be part of learning that at, at kind of the ground level, but the client doesn't need to know what caused their issues. They don't have to have understanding about that. They just need to know what's bothering them and what they want to address. And then that's the therapist job to find out where it started.

Dr. Liz: And what do we know about how EMDR works, which is such a common question I get, and I'm sure you do as. What do we know about that? How does, how is EMDR actually effective?

Kelly O’Horo: So, we used to think that it sort of emulated REM sleep and in a lot of basic trainings, we're still kind of taught that. We think that it works like bringing cognitive, emotional, affective and sensory information connected in awake time and then adding bilateral movements, which we'll get our eyes moving kind of emulating REM sleep.

What we now know through additional research specifically out of out of Holland, is that. It might be just the taxation of working memory, combined with bilateral information. Also potentially tapping things to up the ante for taxing working memory. And what we do is we think that it's now what we think it's doing.

And again, way above my pay grade, if I was a neuroscientist, I might understand it better, but I just know anecdotally it's so darn effective, but what we think it's doing is allowing the desensitization of unwarranted stuff. Basically, happened in the there, and then, and wasn't able to be fully processed cause we were busy trying to survive the event and just withhold or withstand what our environment was, was giving us.

And so, we weren't able to feel all of the feels that were associated with that. So it gives us safe space to allow for the processing of that of information. And what we do think is happening is once it's desensitized and sort of fully reviewed that it is now able to be transferred into long-term memory.

So you don't forget that the thing happened, but it just doesn't hold that emotional charge or that effect of charges.

Dr. Liz: Absolutely. So well-explained, and as far as like the benefits that people receive, so we know that it's really to reduce a lot of these symptoms to shift the negative beliefs. But what are some of these that really tangible benefits that you see for your clients?

Kelly O’Horo: Well, yeah, the, our therapy is not just a symptom reduction tool. It's actually a full psychotherapeutic approach. So, when a person comes in and for example, if they had a highly critical parent. They think my childhood was great. I had all my needs met, but somebody was just never really even gave them praise.

Oftentimes what that kind of instilled in a person is no matter what I do, it's not good enough. And so, the full psychotherapeutic approach actually attempts to address and very oftentimes successful at addressing. I am a good person. I am enough. And so, it can change, not just symptomology, but how one views themselves in the world, because it really does captivate the entire human and their whole self.

And it can change the way we feel entirely about ourself and how we interact and interface and relationships in the world. Absolutely.

Dr. Liz: And I think that that is one of the most powerful outcomes, right. When we can shift those beliefs, we now show up differently in our careers and in our relationships and even in the mirror, just how we reflect about ourselves.

So, yeah, that's such good information. So tell us, where can our viewers find you? Where social media website, where can you be found?

Kelly O’Horo: We are, our Instagram handle is @EMDRgurus and Twitter, Infinite healing and wellness on Facebook is our location. And we are a center of EMDR excellence. And so very often we can help people find you know, qualified persons in their local area and that they can see for this kind of treatment and just knowing that it can treat really any presenting issue and just give you a full sematic change in your experience with, with what you're going through. It's really awesome. So that's how you can find that.

Dr. Liz: Great. And that's actually, before we wrap up, that's a great point. When there's somebody who's looking for an EMDR clinician. Is there a way that you specifically suggest that they go about finding somebody who is qualified and might be a good?

Kelly O’Horo: I do. I always suggest that people go to emdria.org and filter on their location.

And then I always say, try to find an approved consultant first, cause they're going to have the most experience. If there is an approved consultant in that area, then try to find someone who's certified. And if there isn't someone who's certified, then of course finding someone who's basic trained is, is good as well.

It's just that there's a lot more for someone who's gone through more of that certification process, there's been a lot more oversight and consultation involved. So, there's going to be a better experience, likely.

Dr. Liz: Great information. Thank you so much. Kelly, thank you for joining us today.

Kelly O’Horo: Thanks again for having me and thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cool, and Connected.

Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well. Thank you again for joining us on this episode of calm, cooling, connected.

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